Saturday, May 31, 2008

Missing Pix.

These are some of the pix that I was unable to upload earlier this week.

Bleeding Heart "Hedge"

Baltimore Oriole in Blooming Apple Tree. Can you find the orange plumage?

Mowed Pasture looks like lawn for a few days.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oriole Sighted in Apple Tree.

5-29-08 VERMONT: Today was like yesterday, except warmer. I watered everything, limed the lawn above the pond, spread MoleMax mole repellent, weeded and did some deck repair work.

The pasture was finally mowed and looks good. Usually it is too wet in the spring to mow, but this May has been extremely dry so it’s mowable.

I saw a Baltimore oriole in the apple tree by the deck this evening and got one fair picture which I will post if it ever gets uploaded. [The upload time is longer than ever and worse every day. Are you paying attention, blogger staff?]

New blooms: may apple.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Too Cold.

5-28-08 VERMONT: Today was cloudless and sunny, with lots of wind, and chilly with temps in the 50’s. I needed a jacket all day. Yesterday and today I repaired the storm door that was blown out during the winter. The door closer pulled out of the door jamb and the wooden jamb was broken. I took down the broken closer, filled the holes in the jamb, cut new wood panels to attach the new closer and spring to the jamb and door, and it took most of the day. I was forced to buy a new power bevel/miter chop saw.

When I did get out of the house, I set up all the deck, lawn and pond furniture, did a bit of weeding and watering, and suddenly it was dinner time.

New blooms: lily-of-the-valley, indian cucumber, foam flower, sweet woodruff.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tomatoes and Corn are in the Ground.

5-26-08 VERMONT: Actual rain tonight, already for a couple hours, but on and off. The pond level has dropped about an inch. The water is clearer than it has been for several years, probably due to the huge amount of snow this past winter that displaced some, or even most, of the water that was in the pond last summer. That water might have started its journey by evaporating from the Pacific Ocean, then getting carried eastward in some winter storm and precipating here in Thetford. Frogs have appeared in the pond as has a turtle, painted turtle I think, and at least one crayfish.

I planted the tomatoes in the veggie garden from east to west—six Early Girl, 45 days, two Sweet 100, 70 days, two Sun Gold, 57 days, and two Santa Grape, 60 days. Herbs next—two sweet basil, two dill, two rosemary to join the thyme and oregano that over-wintered. Then two pumpkin hills and sweet corn—four rows of 18 plants, double seeded for later thinning.

I filled holes in the flower gardens with a hollyhock, Alcea rosea, a liatris, ‘Floristan Violet’, a cushion spurge, Euphorbia polychroma, a delphinium, ‘Magic Fountains Cherry Blossom’, an ornamental oregano, ‘Hopley’s Purple’, a white Centaurea and a fancy violet.

That’s all the sexy stuff. The rest was weeding, watering, pruning and a few more peony supports.

Apple trees are Memorial Day regulars.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend.

5-23-08 VERMONT: Judy arrived yesterday with Nick and Gus for a happy reunion with all of us. They had a hard trip on Thursday of the holiday weekend. While waiting for them, I got the chain saw started [sorry if that sounds too ominous] and took down a couple small cherry trees that were in the wrong place, pruned an old apple and took a big, dead lower branch off a pine.

Continuing with the gas and oil, I started the trimmer and cleared around the veggie garden and around the roses and whacked several burdock and thistle, well-known criminals of the plant world. Today I finished the veggie garden set-up, repaired the soaker hose under the plastic ground cover, strung the electric fencing and put up tomato trellises. Then I weeded a new flower bed and put up supports for peonies and meadow rue.

We actually had about fifteen minutes of rain today that was enough to wet the bottom of the rain gauge. The day was windy and cool, and it doesn’t feel much like Memorial Day. Or maybe it does. Years ago we sailed in Memorial weekend races on Long Island Sound, usually from Larchmont to Block Island and back. There was always one cold, rainy night.

New blooms: creeping phlox, azalea.

A cloudy sunset.

Hellebore, an early blooming, shade tolerant perennial.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Welcoming the Veggies.

5-21-08 VERMONT: A cool day with a few minor showers, but no significant rain. I started working on the veggie garden. I rolled back the black plastic cover and tested the soaker hose, fertilized, limed lightly because the pH tested a bit acidic at 6.0-6.5, raked the lime and fertilizer in, and replaced the plastic cover. The cover warms the soil and prevents weed growth. I decided to expand the covered area to have a bigger weed-free work area and put down some of that extra cover.

The distressed elm tree is alive, but doesn’t look as good as the other one. In the pond there are fish everywhere, a few newts and no frogs, turtles or crayfish as yet. The pond had brief visits from both a female duck and a Canada goose. The security patrol rousted both trespassers. I heard an owl somewhere on the other side of New Boston Rd.

New blooms: yellow and pink lamium.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More Chores.

5-20-08 VERMONT: It’s nice to get queries. It tells you that someone is actually alive out there. Sam and Chloe, however, have indicated that their brand preferences for coffee and beer are private matters. Neither of them wants to be hounded for public endorsements or dogged by curious voyeurs.

Another pretty nice day, warm, but not hot, sunny and intermittently breezy. Unfortunately, the black flies appeared when the wind was calm. I finished fertilizing the flower beds, dragged out all the hoses and watered everything, weeded and pruned, put up some of the plant supports and planted sunflower seeds.

Tomorrow I start on the veggie garden.

The frog opera has been playing nightly, at dawn the birds take over.

New blooms: purple lamium.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What's Black and White and Red in Front?

5-19-08 VERMONT: Today was cool, windy and showery. The wind was especially welcome as it chases the black flies away. I finished putting up the flower bed barriers, did some plant supports, raked up the gravel that the snow plowers push onto the lawn from the driveway, repaired the hole where a granite post was broken off by the plowers and put the remnant of the post in the border of the bed below the pines in front of the new house. I fertilized all the acidophiles and started on the others when I ran out of fertilizer. Sam, Chloe and I went to Longacres and bought fertilizer, tomatoes, herbs and some potting cups for the sunflowers. We also stopped at D & W for beer and coffee.

Winters are not as cold here as they used to be. The oregano in the herb bed survived from last summer, and I had a tick yesterday. It’s supposed to be too cold here for ticks, but now it’s not.

I filled the bird feeders when I arrived Saturday and today the birds found out.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Glaciers Have Retreated.

5-18-08 VERMONT: As wet as it has been in the NY Metro area is how dry it has been here, even after all the record breaking snow. We had a sprinkle last night and some rain this afternoon, and we’re grateful for every drop. I left here a month ago with the house and gardens under a glacier, but there was not one cube’s worth of ice left when I arrived yesterday. When I left snow drops were opening, and now there is a long list of flowers to mention. The lawn has already been mowed.

I have been busy since I arrived with clean up, pruning winter kill and snow plow trauma, stone wall repairs, setting up the flower bed guards and dodging black flies. I did most of the flower bed clean up in the fall so it was fairly easy now. I saw a male ruby throated hummingbird twice today. He was working on pulmonaria and mertensia by the porch.

The night before I came up, Judy and I heard ‘La Fille du Régiment’ at the Met. Natalie Dessay is a great comic and a ball of energy in addition to singing pretty well. Juan Diego Florez got a huge and prolonged ovation for his big number, but apparently not enough to induce an encore. See anything with Natalie Dessay in it.

In bloom: daffodil, mertensia, jack-in-the-pulpit, epimedium, violets, red and white trillium, pink and white bleeding heart, pulmonaria, forget-me-not, vinca minor, dandelion, ajuga, alkanet, primula, packasandra, hellebore, wild strawberry, jill-over-the-ground, forsythia, blueberry, elderberry, judd viburnum, serviceberry, star magnolia, apple, willow.

Friday, May 16, 2008

More Dogwood.

5-16-08 SHORT HILLS: Another rainy day. We have had about 2 inches of rain so far in May. The swampy spot in the yard by the cypress tree is very muddy. It you poke a stick in the ground there, the water level is an inch below the surface. I am hoping for a wet summer.

Vermont tomorrow.

New blooms: too wet to look.

Dogwood Tree. The trees leaves are very similar to the red-twig dogwood in the last post. The flower has a four petal pattern like the shrub, but these 'petals' are actually sepals, parts of the bud cover that look like flower petals.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Compare and Contrast Dogwood and Viburnum.

5-14-08 SHORT HILLS: We have had two more sunny days with rain tomorrow. Yesterday I planted another flowering pear behind the pool in a packasandra bed. The packasandra that I dug up to make room for the pear was moved to the area south of the pool that I have been slowly filling with packasandra. How’s that for exciting. That last pear tree makes ten plantings this spring plus innumerable transplanted volunteers.

New blooms: red-twig dogwood—one of those new plantings.

Red-twig Dogwood. Notice the leaves are just like the dogwood tree leaves and the tiny flowers have four petals like the tree does. Compare with the five petalled viburnums flowers in the previous post. Both shrubs have simple leaves with a prominent central vein and both have opposite leaves.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day.

5-12-08 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday was Mom’s Day. Valerie, Steve, Maggie and Lucy came out from Brooklyn to join us for an early dinner, another one of Judy’s successes for which much praise was offered by the multitude assembled in the dining room.

The day was partly sunny, cool and breezy followed by rain and wind at night. This morning the yard was littered with branches. Offering me an opportunity to play pick-up-sticks amid the showers.

Saturday we went to a nursery in Green Village, The Farm, which has a huge and varied selection of stock—trees, shrubs and flowers. We bought, and I planted yesterday two Cytisus praecox ‘Hollandia’, scotch brooms, in pink and red, and two Spirea nipponica ‘snowmound’, snowmound spireas, obviously in white.

We have six varieties of viburnums in the yard. I spent some time trying to identify them all. This web site was very helpful: Rather than just list the six names, I’ll show the double file viburnum, the most interesting flower.

New blooms: more of those viburnums.

Double File Viburnum. The big, showy outer white petals are sterile flowers probably to attract pollinators to the small, cream colored, fertile inner flowers. These little flowers are typical of many viburnums, five small rounded petals with five yellow stamens.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Very Rainy Day.

5-9-08 SHORT HILLS: We had a showery day yesterday, but we did get in a dog walk, and I finished the packasandra transplants. Today we have heavy rain. Rain sounds different with the leaves out than with the deciduous trees bare.

Those leaves came out mostly in the last week. The white ash are late as usual, but they follow their own schedule. They are the last to leaf out and the first to dump in the fall so they have the shortest in-leaf season. This probably means they have the most efficient metabolism.

New blooms: wild cherry, deutzia, more viburnums, honey suckle shrubs.

Leucothoe flowers look a bit like andromeda or lily-of-the-valley.

Deutzia called bridal wreath.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Day of Yawning.

5-7-08 SHORT HILLS: Another summery day—I took it easy. I did straighten out the bed border guards that are supposed to keep the dogs out of the beds.

New blooms: may apple, hawthorne, lily-of-the-valley, bamboo shoots, wild strawberry.

I can't resist posting a second picture of this rhododendron.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Wisteria on Notice.

5-6-08 SHORT HILLS: Sunny and warm with a gentle breeze—what more could one ask? Yesterday I root pruned the remaining wisteria, also non-blooming, and advised it that the other two had been severely cut back and it was in jeopardy. I used a spade to sever all roots in a circle around the vine about two feet in diameter. I transplanted another burning bush, growing in an andromeda, to the site where all the rhododendron died.

Today I planted a southern magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora ‘D. D. Blanchard’, near our existing southern magnolia. I gave all the chlorotic looking azaleas some ammonium sulfate for acidification. Chlorosis is present when the new leaves are yellow with green veins instead of a uniform light green. The cause of chlorosis for foundation planting is alkaline soil near the foundation. That happens because the concrete foundation, composed of calcium and magnesium carbonate, leaches into the soil and raises the pH. Most evergreen foundation plantings need an acidic medium.

I also planted packasandra cuttings in that spot near the elm tree where grass won’t or can’t grow. I took the packasandra from an overgrown path.

New blooms: another viburnum, burning bush, leucothea, wood hyacinth, sweet woodruff.

Azaleas are positively lurid.

Redbud flower open. It's quite a complex structure for a tiny bloom. Each tree has thousands in clusters.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Weeds and Flowers.

5-4-08 SHORT HILLS: The rain stopped today and the sun came out. Things dried off enough for me to paint the wrought iron porch supports in front of the house in which the wisteria were entwined. After scrapping and painting with white Rustoleum, I planted a purple clematis to compete with or replace the wisteria on one side.

Yesterday I planted two Manhattan euonymus along the back fence in adjacent spots that are now sunny since the neighbors took down trees that shaded that area. They will allegedly get to eight feet tall and wide.

The rose-of-sharon started to show leaves about three days ago. They always wait until the last minute, and until I am on the verge of cutting them down as dead.

New blooms: yellow barberry by the pool fence, I forgot to mention two weeds, wild garlic mustard and wild mustard as being in bloom. Why do I mention weeds? The difference between weeds and flowers is totally subjective. They are all plants doing what species do, propgating themselves.

Rhododendron. [Not a weed.]

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Let's Go [Away], Mets.

5-1-08 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday and today were sunny and cool. Today I did a bunch of small chores around the yard—more pruning, cleaned the pool cover, cleaned the driveway drain.

Yesterday was a totally wasted day. I went to Shea Stadium, probably for the last time ever. The Mets were awful—Oliver Pérez gave up 7 runs in less than 2 innings, mostly by walking 5 and hitting another, the Pirates, yes the Pirates, got 6 more runs off the relievers before I left in the sixth inning. The defense was lackadaisical with 3 bobbles and a failure of José Reyes to cover second on a rundown play. The hitting—pathetic—one hit in the six innings that I endured. This team, now, is not a contender. The bright spot of the outing was the traveling. NJ Transit train to and from NY Penn Station, the subway out and back to and from Shea with the iPod and a newspaper was almost pleasant and much more enjoyable than the game.

Last night we saw a great movie, The Visitor, four great performances. Don’t miss it.

Since my last entry, I have done a lot of pruning, junipers, the linden tree and others, and drove another two Subaru-loads of cutting to the dump.

New blooms: jack-in-the-pulpit, lamium, azalea.

The redbud flowers all look like tiny orchids.

Lamium Flowers.Lamium is a semi-evergreen, ground cover available in several colors. The flower has a covering petal, a landing pad petal for the bugs and a well in the center with the nectar If you touch those hairs, you or the pollinators get a shower of pollen from those organs on the ceiling of the overhanging petal.